Last Updated : Sun 26th Apr 2020
It would probably be a waste of time to argue on why having healthy shoulders and hips is important. I expect that EVERYONE that reads this page acknowledges some limitations in these 2 areas of her/his body.
In this page I will explain my approach when addressing hip mobility. By the time you finish reading I hope you will appreciate the complexity and why practicing just downward dog will not cut it.
Hips can move in 6 directions : internal – external rotation, adduction -abduction, flexion – extension. You probably notice there are opposing movements some of which we have to perform daily and some rarely (ie. internal rotation adduction). A few things to keep in mind when mobilising your hips :
• The requirements from one person to another may vary significantly. Here is an example :
David (lawyer, amateur football player) :
During his football games he has to bring his hips into abduction and external rotation in order to control the ball, while running requires flexion and extension. Lack of strength & flexibility in the muscles that facilitate these movements can compromise his ability to perform and increase the risk of a knee or lower back injury. You have probably have heard of 1 or 2 footballer having their knee operated at some point.
Let’s use the above case for further analysis. Yoga can improve his ability to run by :
• Improving his active/dynamic flexibility in flexion and extension. This will involve :
. high lunges where the back knee bends and extends, to strengthen the PSOAS
. knee over toe lunges having the front knee straightens and bends, to improve flexibility in the ligaments around the knee
. lunges where the adductors stretch (as they often restrict the movement in the hamstrings)
. Knee against the wall lunges to release tension in quads
• To support the external rotation he can practice :
. pigeon and later on figure 4 squat & half moon pose
• while his abduction will benefit from the use of :
. lateral leg lifts with or without ankle weights
. leg straddle work with simultaneously glute activation.
The fact that he has to sit at a desk all day clearly doesn’t help David keep his hips mobile. When he comes to exercise he may experience tightness while the morning after, symptoms of pain in the lower back, numbness in the knee, cramping in the calves. The above exercises are some key ones when it comes to helping someone like David with flexibility requirements.
The reality is that often, props such as : ankle weights, bands, blocks can help someone mobilise her/his joints in a safe way and ultimately make the joint healthy to support activities (like football) which initially may seem unrelated to yoga.